We woke up early in Anchorage and went to pick up our rental—a pickup truck. Katie is truck-obsessed, but they are normally one of the most expensive types of car that you can rent. Only in Alaska would they be the cheapest option—and only in Alaska did we feel it was absolutely nonnegotiable. The guy at the counter didn’t blink when two little NYC girls asked him for their truck, and he showed us to a ginormous Ford F150 that scared us initially. It was a 6-seater and looked as big as a bus compared to our usual, teensy rentals. We hopped (up) inside and got our bearings, winding out of the rental car center down a narrow, coiled ramp about the width of the truck itself that nearly gave Katie an aneurysm.
“On the bright side, you look seriously badass driving that”
We met our friend Andrew at SteamDot Coffee where he proceeded to order about 5 different caffeinated options for a pseudo Alaska-style “coffee flight”. Coffee, as he explained, is extremely important to Alaskans due to those parts of the year where daylight is scarce. The brew was smooth and delicious, and we left extra jittery. Our first stop (before checking into our B&B) was to hike Flat Top Mountain, so we climbed the beautiful scenic pass to the parking lot, which had a better view of the mountains on its own than you’d see at the conclusion of most hikes.
The park was nearly desolate, with light blowing snow and melting ice that ran down patches of mountain grass (April is “breakup” season for Alaska’s snow). We changed in the chilly bathroom and trekked upward, chugging through muddy snow and climbing around curved paths. The higher we got, the stiffer the breeze became. When we made it to about the last ¼ of the hike, the path ahead became covered in thick snow and the side of the mountain was extra steep. There was virtually no “flat” area left to grip the path. Realizing that we couldn’t get past it without spikes on our shoes (or risk slipping and tumbling several hundred feet), we reluctantly turned around. The view was killer though, even at the ¾ mark.
We pulled into our B&B in downtown, The Copper Whale, after our first attempt at U-turning the truck and parking on a skinny side street (successfully!). It was super quaint and our room had an unbelievable view of the Cook Inlet and snow-capped mountains. We unloaded and strolled down 4th Avenue for a bit, which gave us a look into the old-school style of downtown Anchorage. Some of the buildings reminded me a bit of Memphis, TN, with a 60’s era style.
4th Avenue was kitschier than expected, and had a few questionable characters lingering about. Regardless, there were lots of stores and a few hotdog stands selling reindeer sausage. Local bars and restaurants were sprinkled throughout the side streets and along 5th & 6th, and we liked the easy grid-like layout of the streets. That night, our friend Andrew gave us a ride (we weren’t “truck-comfortable” enough yet to have a dinner beer and get home safely) to Moose’s Tooth for food and drinks—a local favorite. After a quick snafu when I realized I had forgotten my ID in our hiking bag in the room, we had to swing back and pick it up (the server didn’t believe that my baby-face was over 21), leaving Katie to guard our coveted booth table. Settled, we dug into an unreal half buffalo chicken and half roasted garlic and artichoke pizza, warm and chewy mozzarella bread, and icy cold local drafts. The flavor was intense, the toppings overflowing, and the dough fresh and hot. I started to understand why it was one of the most popular joints in Anchorage.
We crashed early that night, knowing we had to be up at 7am to hike on a glacier the next day. This time of year in Anchorage, the sun starts to set around 10pm but the sky doesn’t become truly dark until close to 11:30pm, which confused my east-coast mind. We used the blackout shades.